Hi, my name is Dragana, and I’m a book-o-holic. My goal in life is to read all the speculative fiction novels in the world. (or at least try) :)
You can also find me on: Bookworm Dreams Blog
Since A Conspiracy of Alchemists is Liesel Schwarz's debut novel I didn't know what to expect. The cover promised a lot of steampunk-ish goodness and that it will be set in Europe, Paris to be exact. I am glad to say that the book fulfilled all the promises and excited my expectations. It's rare to find a true steampunk novel these days. A lot of them seem like steampunk is added as an after-though to increase the sale - but that is not the case with A Conspiracy of Alchemists. This book is overflowing with intriguing steam powered contraptions: dirigibles, gyrocopters... Steam and magically powered machines are ingrained into every aspect of life to create a very interesting alternative Victorian age that you will wish it really existed (and you live in it of course).
Eleanor Chance or Elle is the pilot of small dirigible 'Water Lily'. When she is hired to transport a mysterious box from Paris to London, Elle gets more than she bargained for. All hell breaks lose as alchemists, warlocks, vampires Nightwalkers and other various creatures of Light and Shadow start to pursue her and threaten not only her but her family too. Luckily for us (and her), Elle is one of those kick-ass heroines that I adore. She does not only flaunt conventions by flying and wearing men's clothing, Elle also has enough spunk to fight for herself. You gotta love Elle's determination and she has one of the best motivational mottoes ever:
"Just because it hasn't been done before, does not mean that it is not possible."
So, I already told you to expect steampunk goodies and kick-ass heroine. But, wait there is more! If you like to travel (for real or via books), then this book has another treat for you, because Elle will follow trails to unmask conspiracy trough Paris, Oxford, Venice, Budapest and Constantinople. Of course, since A Conspiracy of Alchemists is not very long and there is so much going on, there will be no detailed descriptions, but I am satisfied with little glimpses of these amazing cities we got. And I hope more will come in the next books...
I keep going on and on how this book is great. So why the 4 star rating then, you are probably thinking. Well, the one aspect where this book fell short was romance. Don't get me wrong, I am totally satisfied if I have no romance whatsoever in a book, but if it's there is a love story - I want to feel the attraction. And that was not the case in A Conspiracy of Alchemists. Big plus is that there is no love triangle and it's not insta-love - the feelings between Elle and Hugh have a slow buildup, but still I didn't buy it. I could feel Elle's passion about everything else (her family, carier, etc.) but for Hugh - no sparks or butterflies whatsoever.
If we ignore this, A Conspiracy of Alchemists was a great mix of steampunk and fantasy that made me wish to make a road trip trough Europe, learn to fly a plane and kick some serious ass. *performs imaginary awesome roundhouse kick in her head* I'm glad that this is a series and I can't wait to read more about Elle's adventures.
I recommend this book to fans of: steampunk (duh), kick-ass heroines, heroines in strict historical societies that ignore the conventions and fight for their dreams and ideals, fans of urban fantasy who would like to spice it up with historical elements.